Collected on a monthly basis, the 65,000 cases on CCJD’s database provide a valuable source of information on current problems faced by rural communities when trying to access justice. CCJD’s research director Wendy Leeb, who was previously head of research, information and library services at the KZN Provincial Legislature, uses the database as a source of research into socio-legal issues such as gender-based violence. The database is also used by undergraduate, Masters and doctorate students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and throughout South Africa.
Research is currently being done on poverty. This will embrace the causes of poverty, the alleviation of poverty and the role that government grants play in this picture. It will also focus on how the poor can act pro-actively in trying to extract themselves from the status quo with assistance from relevant organisations.
In 2014, CCJD was commissioned by The National Alliance for the Development of the Community Advice Offices in South Africa (NADCAO) to carry out research to profile the Community Advice Office Sector in South Africa. We carried out fieldwork with community advice offices in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo through interviews with paralegals, management committee members, stakeholders and focus groups with clients and community members. The publication can be read here: Research Report to NADCAO
In 2014 CCJD produced a report for a funder describing our experience of working with traditional leaders on a 12-month project on women’s and children’s rights. The successes and challenges are outlined here: D G Murray Trust Learning Brief
We are currently carrying out research into Community-based Paralegals and the Provision of Socio-Legal Support to Older Women in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This is based on the CCJD database, discussions with paralegals and CCJD reports. We will publish a paper in 2015.
CCJD’s Director recently completed her PhD thesis on the ‘The Role of Community-based Paralegals in Community Restorative Justice in Rural KwaZulu-Natal’. In 2015 she co-authored the article Legal Empowerment as Social Entrepreneurship based on her research at CCJD’s Bulwer and New Hanover Advice Offices. She is currently writing several other articles based on her PhD.
Recent Master’s research has been by Uduak Johnson on The Purposes and Uses of Monitoring and Evaluation in NGOs, using CCJD as a case study, while Emmanuel Ranganai wrote a Master’s thesis on The Role of Civil Society in Policy Implementation, again using CCJD as a case study. In 2011 graduate student Timothy Obaje completed a Masters on the Challenges and Benefits of Policy Networks when implementing labour policy, using CCJD as a case study. Phindile Hlubi’s Master’s thesis on the “The role of the Centre for Community Justice and Development in Indigenous Governance of Social Justice in Impendle, Kwa-Zulu Natal can be accessed at Indigenous Governance of Social Justice in Impendle. This focuses on the framework of access to justice by the people and explores aalyernative ways to deliver that justice.
CCJD is currently helping the First for Women Foundation to establish a new victim support centre in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. Our preliminary assessment of Diepsloot, including its socio-economic conditions and crime patterns, can be read here: Diepsloot Needs Assessment
Read an article here by CCJD’s former research director Karen Buckenham about the abuse of the elderly in KwaZulu-Natal. The article appeared in the Natal Witness in 2013.
CCJD is currently funded by The Maurice Webb Trust to carry out research into Race, Racial Thinking and Access to Services in KwaZulu-Natal. We have been conducting field work in KZN at six CCJD advice offices through interviews with paralegals, management committee members, stakeholders and focus groups with clients and community members. We have completed the research and will publish the findings in 2015.
The Research Program therefore aims to:
- Undertake and promote research into the work and experience of the community-based advice offices in restorative justice and conflict resolution and the furtherance of access to justice as a human right, including multi- and interdisciplinary research
- Conduct and publish research on the activities of the outreach programme, focusing on improving its services
- Attract researchers from in and outside the University of KwaZulu-Natal to work at CCJD on topics ranging from sociology to local government
The basis for research is the computerised data system that holds more than 65,000 cases containing valuable primary information. The twenty paralegals at the advice offices record their cases and send them by email to CCJD each month, where they are collated and analysed using the computerised database. The data is a valuable record of how laws are implemented and of the problems faced by disadvantaged communities in accessing justice.
Apart from criminal justice, a range of wider research areas flow naturally from the daily work of the advice offices: family law, maintenance, labour and social security matters, children’s rights, HIV/AIDS, dispute resolution, the interaction of European and customary African law, how long it takes for laws to be implemented and affect people, and the problems people experience at service points. CCJD’s cases offer valuable primary data for students of anthropology, social sciences, psychology, government and law, as well as policy-makers.
Since 2000, CCJD has conducted three-yearly evaluations of its work. These analyse trends in crimes, the impact of services, staff record-keeping and reporting, and set standards for performance. They consider whether the advice offices are fulfilling their intended purpose, and identify successful practices to implement in the poorly performing offices.
The CCJD resource centre contains a variety of material, such as its legal series booklets and fliers, books and research documents on local and international subjects, videos, newsletters, CD-ROM, reports, training manuals, archive documents, posters, pamphlets, media articles, statutes and educational materials.
CCJD uses the services of university students, both local and international, who join the organisation as interns. These students contribute by:
- assisting with research and documentation
- participating in the outreach activities of the advice offices
- collecting and capturing data
- assisting with training workshops for community members
We have recently begun a mentoring program for law students. If you are interested in learning about the work of paralegals and being mentored by them, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org